Patna Pirates kept their ambitions for a hat-trick of VIVO Pro Kabaddi titles alive with wins against Haryana Steelers and Puneri Paltan in the second and third eliminator clashes. In doing so, they set up a date with Bengal Warriors in Qualifier 2, which if they win puts them in a good position to defend their title against Gujarat Fortunegiants in the final.

Patna coach Ram Mehar Singh opined that his team’s defence still has room for improvement when they play Bengal on Thursday. “The defence needs to improve. Even if the defence works 40 percent, we will win. I don't think they [Bengal] can stop Monu [Goyat] or Pardeep [Narwal] easily. Even if they get tackled a couple of times, they would still make it work in their next raids,” he told the media at the post-match press conference after Patna’s win over Pune.

Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh, who lifted the trophy with Patna as a player in Season 3, had previously stroked the fire by saying he prefers to face the Pirates in the final as they are an easier team to beat. The Patna coach responded in kind and even suggested that a coach shouldn’t be making such statements. “See, I have never said in a press conference that a particular team would be easy for us. The real talking will be done on the mat. And god willing, I will sit with Manpreet and do the press conference… It's okay for players to say certain things but for a coach to say something like this, I feel it's not exactly appropriate,” Ram Mehar Singh said.

He continued: “Like, we didn't think that we'd beat Haryana [Eliminator 2] in the fashion we eventually did, not even one percent. I thought we were in for a tough match and they are a good team! Or against Pune [in Eliminator 3], we were losing our grip on the game at one time.

“Our wish is also to play against Gujarat. Now that's the situation that has come up anyway. We have to play against them if we win against Bengal. So, I would like to thank Manpreet that he wants to play the final against us.”

The final of VIVO Pro Kabaddi Season 5 will be played on Saturday in Chennai.